Benedict to Barack: Congrats
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said that because the message was addressed personally to Obama, the Vatican did not plan to publish it.SVILUPPO: According to the Italian wires, the Holy See's message -- as communicated by Lombardi -- included the prayer that God might "illumine" the president-elect, that he might be able "to respond to the expectations and the hopes placed in him, effectively serving justice and right, seeking new paths to promote peace in the world, supporting the growth and dignity of peoples in respect to their human values and spiritual essence."
However, he said, the papal message opened by referring to the "historic occasion" of the election, marking the first time a black man has been elected president of the United States.
The pope congratulated Obama, his wife and family, Lombardi said.
"He assured him of his prayers that God would help him with his high responsibilities for his country and for the international community," Father Lombardi said.
Asked if the pope mentioned any specific issues he was concerned about, Father Lombardi responded, "peace, solidarity and justice."
The pope also prayed that "the blessing of God would sustain him and the American people so that with all people of good will they could build a world of peace, solidarity and justice," the spokesman said....
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, also sent a message.
Father Lombardi said it is likely a formal message also will be sent on the occasion of Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration; in past years, the Vatican custom has been that the pope congratulates a new U.S. president only when he formally takes office.
"May believers pray that God illumine and help [Obama] in his great responsibility, which is enormous given the importance of the United States on the global stage," the papal portavoce added.